Seri Menanti is the royal capital of the state of Negri Sembilan. It is a tiny town about 100km / 62mi southeast of Kuala Lumpur. Among its landmarks is the old wooden palace know as Istana Lama, built without the use of a single nail.
On Saturday March 26th, Seri Menanti was the venue for a 120km / 74.5mi ride, sponsored by CIMB, which is an international bank headquartered in Malaysia.
I signed up to ride with a group of friends who call themselves R@SKL.
Given how far away Seri Menanti is from Kuala Lumpur, most of us opted to drive down on Friday, and spend the night at the Melang Inn Hotel in Kuala Pilah. The hotel is about 12km / 7.5mi from Seri Menanti.
Some of the guys are avid golfers. On Friday afternoon they played a partial round, truncated by rain, at the Staffield Country Resort, which is about halfway between Kuala Lumpur and Seri Menanti. I met the golfers for dinner at the Regent Restaurant in Seremban.
Then we drove the rest of the way to the hotel. Golfers and nongolfers alike met up for a drink at the Hailam Kopitiam restaurant next door to the hotel, before one by one, we headed to our beds.
Anyone planning to park at the starting point had to be there before about 6.30am. So it was an early start for everyone except me. I rode to the start. My deadline was the flag off time of 7.30, so I had an extra hour of sleep.
Pink was the jersey colour of choice for the R@SKLs. I don’t own a pink jersey. The best I could do was a pink base layer.
We got off the stat line bang on time. Well done organisers.
The route was a counter-clockwise loop. From Seri Menanti we rode back past the Melang Inn Hotel in Kuala Pilah before heading roughly north to Kampung Serting Hulu and Kampung Chawas at the northernmost point in the loop. To that point the terrain was almost pan flat, so the riding was comfortable.
You will notice from these photographs that the R@SKLs were wearing white arm screens Those were provided by LGB Group, a Malaysian multinational with subsidiaries in a number of industries.
LGB Group were one of the corporate partners for this event. In addition to the arm screens, they provided a support vehicle for us. Always a comforting thing to have on a long ride.
We hit a few small climbs as we meandered westward to Kuala Klawang. The real climbing action started about 10km / 6mi southwest of Kuala Klawang. The infamous Bukit Tangga. 4km / 2.5mi with 280m / 919ft of elevation.
Fortunately it was overcast as we dragged ourselves up Bukit Tangga. By the time we got to the top it was raining. Which kept us cool as heart rates became elevated.
Luckily the rain was very localised, and the road was completely dry after the initial third of the descent. We caught our breath after the descent at a Petron station in Taman Panchor Jaya. Then it was 4km / 2.5mi along a series of busy intersections to the foot of the next climb, up Jalan Kuala Pilah. This ascent was 6.5km / 4mi and 315m / 1,033ft of elevation. Not helped at all by a relatively strong headwind.
When we crested that second climb it was past midday. And hot. So everyone appreciated the 3km / 1.8mi blast down the other side of the hill. The next 10km / 6.2mi was slightly downhill, but the headwind prevailed, making it harder work than it should have been.
The ride organisers put a sting in the tail of this ride, as you can see below. The climbs, from the left, are Bukit Tangga, Jalan Kuala Pilah and Seri Menanti.
That last 1km / 0.6mi kick, with a red section at 15%, came with just 5km / 3mi of the ride left. More than a few riders had to push their bikes up that vicious 90m / 295ft climb.
As is always the case, there was lots of moaning during the climbs, but everyone was in good spirits after the ride. We older, i.e. slower riders made it safely to the end. Sadly one younger i.e. faster R@SKL got caught up in a crash, which fortunately damaged his bike more than it damaged him. But the crash meant the end of his ride.
It had seemed like a good idea to ride to the start in the cool of the early morning. It didn’t feel like such a good idea when the sun was at its peak at 2pm. I got a lift back to the hotel. Definitely preferable to getting broiled while riding. We all had lunch at the Hailam Kopitiam, amidst much laughter as we shared stories about the ride. The R@SKLs are a fun group to ride with.
If CIMB organises another ride next year, I’ll be up for collecting one more of these.